- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $14,798 to Washington State University college students to fund a project that will build walls from trash to help heat low-income housing units, specifically targeting senior housing. The grant was awarded through the EPA’s "People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3)" competition.
- The walls will be built of plastic bags, cardboard, and other solid waste for 10 cents per square foot, providing a less costly green alternative than other carbon footprint-reducing options. Students will first install garbage walls in their dorms and apartments as a test run.
- The TrashWalls will appear in a National Sustainable Design Expo this spring after which the project’s young innovators will compete for a second grant of up to $75,000 to take the project to the next step: working to market the walls.
Green energy makes sense from an environmental stand, but the infrastructure is expensive, and landlords have little if any incentive to make their buildings more energy efficient and economical — which leaves poor people with limited ways to tap into clean energy that is cheaper than what they have now. As such, the grant said, "many rental properties remain woefully energy inefficient. The burden of high utility bills then falls on those least able to pay them."
At TrashWall’s very cheap production cost, renters, and landlords will likely see complete payback in utilities expenses in less than one heating season, according to research.
"…A TrashWall will reduce heat losses from the unit, improve the comfort of those spaces during cold weather, and save the renter money on their utility bills," the grant said.
It is unclear how potential odors from the TrashWalls will affect the success of the product.